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Conscience and Its Enemies Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism

Showcasing the talents that have made him one of America’s most acclaimed and influential thinkers, Robert P. George explodes the myth that the secular elite represents the voice of reason. In fact, George shows, it is on the elite side of the cultural divide where the prevailing views frequently are nothing but articles of faith. Conscience and Its Enemies reveals the bankruptcy of these too often smugly held orthodoxies while presenting powerfully reasoned arguments for classical virtues. In defending what James Madison called the “sacred rights of conscience” — rights for which government shows frightening contempt — George grapples with today’s most controversial issues: abortion and infanticide, same-sex marriage, genetic manipulation, euthanasia and assisted suicide, religion in politics, judicial activism, and more. His brilliantly argued essays rely not on theological claims or religious authority but on established scientific facts and a philosophical tradition that extends back to Plato and Aristotle. Conscience and Its Enemies elevates our national debates. It sets forth powerful arguments that secular liberals are unaccustomed to hearing — and that embattled defenders of traditional morality so often fail to marshal. It also lays out the principles and arguments for rebuilding a moral order.

Table of Contents

    • Introduction
  • Part I: Fundamentals
    • 1 Common Principles, Common Foes
    • 2 The Limits of Constitutional Limits
    • 3 Private Acts, Public Interests
    • 4 Liberalism, Liberation, and the Liberal Arts
    • 5 Judicial Despotism Lessons from the “Great Emancipator”
    • 6 Some Hard Questions about Affirmative Action
    • 7 Immigration and American Exceptionalism
  • Part II: Morality and the Public Square
    • 8 Natural Law, God, and Human Dignity
    • 9 Why Moral Truths Matter
    • 10 Two Concepts of Liberty … and Conscience
    • 11 Religious Liberty A Fundamental Human Right
    • 12 What Marriage Is—and What It Isn’t
    • 13 The Myth of a “Grand Bargain” on Marriage
    • 14 God and Gettysburg
  • Part III: Life and Death
    • 15 Conscience and Its Enemies
    • 16 When Life Begins
    • 17 Embryo Ethics What Science Tells Us, What Justice Demands of Us
    • 18 The Personal and the Political Some Liberal Fallacies
    • 19 A Right to Life Denied or a Right to Die Honored?
    • 20 The “Relics of Barbarism,” Then and Now
  • Part IV: Good Guys and … Not-So-Good Guys
    • 21 Harry Blackmun Improbable Liberal Icon
    • 22 Andrew Sullivan A Walking Contradiction
    • 23 Bernard Nathanson A Life Transformed by Truth
    • 24 He Threw It All Away On the Greatness of Richard John Neuhaus
    • 25 A Practical Philosopher in Every Way G. E. M. Anscombe
    • 26 The Achievement of John Finnis
    • 27 Elizabeth Fox-Genovese A Life Well Lived
    • 28 Eugene Genovese Truth Teller
    • Notes
    • Acknowledgments
    • Index